What is International Girls in ICT Day?
Events held every year on the 4th Thursday of April where teenage girls and university students are invited to spend the day at the office of ICT companies, government agencies and academic institutions so they better understand the opportunities the ICT sector holds for their future.
Who organizes them?
Ministries of Communication, Education, Nattional Regulatory Authorities, private sector companies, academic institutions and NGOs can organize local or national events this 26 April 2012.
How have other countries organized a Girls in ICT Day?
There is a video about the Republic of Serbia's 2011 event on the homepage of this website in the Videos section. Here's more information:
Girls Day for Elementary School Students
On 28 April 2011, 300 girls attending the final year of elementary school (13-14 years of age) from all across Serbia, accompanied by their teachers, came to the capital city, Belgrade, to take part in the first ever celebration of International Girls in ICT Day in Serbia. They were divided into 10 groups and each group first visited an ICT company, or a Government institution in charge of ICT. Serbia targeted girls at this age because school children must already decide their field of study the following year. Countries in which students identify their field of study at a later date could adapt the Serbian model to also target teenagers and university women, as appropriate.
In the Serbian Ministry, the girls learned of the processes, benefits and challenges of every day work, what it is like to be an all-female delegation in a predominately male industry, and how more and more women are becoming leaders in the industry. Here, they also met with women entrepreneurs that spoke to them of how they came to own small and medium ICT businesses: web design, programming and developing, beta-testing, internet-based businesses etc.
In the ICT companies, women CEOs, engineers, public relations managers and lawyers talked about what it is like to work in the industry, to participate in developing technologies that are changing the way we work, how we communicate and how we live. The girls learned how these women got to be where they are, saw what the offices, call centres, programming bureaus, and assembly lines look like and were introduced to the fun side of technology - video diaries, twitter walls, the latest smart phones, and accessories.
Afterwards, each group went to a faculty of Belgrade University to see what it was like to be a university student, studying technical sciences. They toured the Faculty premises and talked to the female students about their experiences studying technology.
In the end, all groups gathered at the central celebration event, where the girls got a chance to network, exchange ideas and impressions. After a brief welcome by Ms. Jasna Matic, State Secretary for Digital Agenda of Serbia, the winners of the MOST-ICT Girl Competition were announced.
The MOST-ICT Girl competition is based on the creativity of the girls that were participating in Girls in ICT; they had to answer one of three questions in Twitter format - up to 140 characters. The questions were: what does my mobile phone mean to me? what does the internet offer? how have new technologies changed my life? The competition was organized separately for the elementary school students and the university students. The winners received prizes from the participating companies such as desktop PCs, laptops, printers and smart phones.
Evening Career Mixer Party
Girls in ICT Day ended with a Career Mixer Party, which gave an opportunity to female university students to meet and talk to the women, but also men from participating companies and entrepreneurs, and ask them for quick career advice and various tips on how to move forward in the industry. Two hundred students from five faculties mingled with high-ranking Government officials, CEOs and Board members of the largest ICT companies, and leaders of the internet community in Serbia.
Three weeks after the event, the Serbian Ministry conducted a follow up exercise with the participating girls (questionnaire) and companies (meeting and questionnaire).
The responses from the participating girls demonstrate that this was a very exciting day. They enjoyed the visits to the companies, the innovative approach the companies had to introducing them to ICT (some of the girls actually made short films, or had teleconferences with neighbouring countries) and 32 % reported that they would have liked the opportunity to visit more than one ICT company. An overwhelming 96 % enjoyed the visit to Belgrade University and talking to the students and 42 % reported that they would like to have visited more than one faculty. All participants were impressed by the competition, and reported the only possible improvement would be to increase the competition by including more schools and more prizes.
The companies were also extremely positive about the day. All companies reported that they received support from their regional and/or global headquarters that they would take part in Girls in ICT Day next year and would like to do much more. They suggested that next time the girls stay longer at their premises and that we include more participants. They all wanted the competition to carry on and expand, to provide prizes for girls that have top grades in mathematics, science, physics and computer classes. Suggestions have been made for scholarships, internships, study trips abroad etc. Some companies would like to organize specific IT related programs for girls, and 2 companies already have such programs running.
The clear benefits and wide ranging effects of the Girls in ICT Day can be easily replicated in any country. Furthermore, the more countries involved, the greater the effects. A snowball effect will be created in each region that organizes Girls in ICT Day, as the spill over effect generated by good results is quickly and easily carried across borders and will seamlessly produce results on the global level.
Are there any resources for organizations that would like to organize an event this April?
Please see the Girls in ICT Day Toolkit developed by WITNET to help plan a Girls in ICT Day event. at http://www.witnet.org/?modul=content&id=7